Type 6


key traits

  • Defence mechanism: Projection, protect against their own internal sense of fear by projecting outwards and imagining it's coming from other people, ex. if 6 feels insecure, they might imagine that someone else is judging them

  • Defence mechanism: Splitting, seeing objects as either good or bad without ambivalence to reduce anxiety

  • Hyper-vigilance: being alert to negative data/danger, imagine worst-case scenarios, detectives

  • Theoretical Orientation: use reason/rationality to quell doubt and indecision

  • Orientation to Authority: both love/hate authorities, fear leads to sweetness, obedience, and/or defiance, suspicious of authorities

  • Doubt: question everything, end up in ambivalence or black and white thinking; ambivalence causes anxiety, can invalidate themselves or others through suspicion

  • Contrarian Thinking & Reactivity: voice an opposing idea to whatever the current opinion is, they are looking for the right answers and avoiding being dominated, fear of being taken over by someone else's wrong idea

  • Anti-elitism: Not wanting to separate oneself too much from others, would rather stay connected to others; might insert collective humanisms into high art forms to make it less inaccessible and elite; search for what makes us universally human; elitism implies being truly separate or superior, this is something 6's innately fight against; fight for equality

  • Band of Freaks: glorifying the idea of being "weird" or a "freak" in a collective way, banding together against the "normals;" this is in direct contrast to types 4 and 5 who have no positive identification with being "different" 

  • Dichotomies: Often identify with the 4-8 dichotomy, seeing themselves as a 4 with 8 in the tritype, but 6 is emotional reactive, and focuses on the good/evil duality of life; thinking style is pendulous, back and forth, jumping up every time something settles

  • Phobic vs. Counter-phobic: also friendly vs. hostile, nice vs. angry, sweet vs. aggressive, non-threatening vs. threatening; 6's embody both sides of these, but people will generally sit one one or another side of this spectrum most of the time

  • Self-fullfilling Prophecy: 6 feels inner fear, imagines other people are the source of that fear, then acts that way towards others, the other then begins to feel negatively about the 6 even when they might not have before

  • Shadow/Lost Self: can't access their own courage, ability to trust, and the reality of a non-threatening situation, can't access a comfort with uncertainty

  • Core fears: Being blamed, uncertain, social anxiety, danger, being alone, cowardice, tendency to submit, deviance, being targeted, chaos, physical abandonment

  • Wants the Truth


Being part of the fear triad or the head centre, the type 6 structure is based upon using cognition to help manage the dangers of the realities of life, aka the “who/what/where/when/why/how.” 6’s might not identify with “fear” itself as a primary driver, but fear is atomized into friendliness, aggressiveness, reactivity, swinging back and forth, searching for proof and authorities, being outspoken, wondering about others’ ulterior motives, self-deprecating humour, and identifying with the common man (or at the very least, avoiding arrogance.) The 6 is the person who when putting together a new table, screws the first leg on so tight that it ends up snapping. 

There are so many different styles of 6 that it’s difficult to pinpoint something very specific about them, but one of the main facets of 6 is that they don’t want you to pin them down. While they might voraciously seek knowledge and the higher truth, they will simultaneously doubt that the truth exists in the source they’ve found. They will look for an external source and yet wriggle away from the contained box of false certainty. They won’t allow anyone or anything to take over their minds. Because of this, I believe 6’s have the hardest time typing themselves on the enneagram because they hate the idea of being pinned into a box and doubt any external authority that attempts to place them there.

The three main styles of 6 do not relate to instinctual subtype as most commonly described, but more so to individual style and tritype. 6’s can be sweet and friendly, reactive and intense, or rigid. Most 6’s run the gamut of all three. For example, many 6's can get themselves into black-and-white thinking, categorizing the bad person/group and the good person/group without any confusing exceptions.

6’s will often react to things that they deem unfair to restore equilibrium. They like to catch people in the act of lying or cast doubt on ideas that people believe to be certain. 6’s can be some of the most emotional types on the enneagram, though they will not necessarily identify with that. They often identify with being rational, enjoying the idea that they can make solid decisions that keep them safe and on track. 6’s view the world as an unpredictable place, so they construct a solid framework with which to safely navigate through the world. Their greatest fear is being wrong about everything, and having their intellectual safety net torn apart. 6’s want to believe that if they follow the rules, that they won’t get called out or get in trouble. However, they will often be seen completely contradicting their own submission and rebelling against their own safety net. 6’s can oscillate between completely rebelling against another’s authority, or blindly falling into the comfortable safety of another’s protection. 

6’s are generally seen anticipating the worst-case scenario with regards to their instinct, and they will double check and ping pong back and forth as a result of this preparation. They want things to be clear, they want to know what’s going on with whom and when. 6’s will keep track of minute histories of people, and then project that a person has a particular motivation behind their action. They will make graphs of data and correlate different sources of information to try to come to a sense of truth.

6’s want to avoid making clear enemies. They are weary of being in positions that put them at risk of attack, so they keep connected into the grid of humanity. They are the type most likely to identify with “humanness,” and will call out people who think they’re better than others, pulling them back down into the human space. They like people who are down to earth and authentic, and they can’t stand smooth talkers or people that have something to hide. They like to be “one of the guys/girls.” Even the most hyper intelligent 6’s with a natural uniqueness that sets them apart will insert something into themselves that makes them still seem down to earth. To avoid being too elitist, they will want to make sure that what they do is still relatable to people. Those 6’s (especially with 4 as their heart fix) will have an internal conflict between wanting to be a special snowflake but still doing so in a way that’s not going to completely strike them off the network of support they’ve built.

To refer back to the table metaphor above, 6’s focus so much on security that they end up not seeing the reality of the truth beyond their own projections. They need to learn when the screw is tight enough to support the table leg, and not forget about the other legs.

Lines of movement

6 moves to 9

  • Positive: become more relaxed and less anxious, open up to others' points of view when they are projecting threats

  • Negative: begin to numb themselves out to dull the obsessing or anxiety (ex. TV, food, drugs)

6 moves to 3

  • Positive: become less indecisive and act to accomplish goals, do not shy away from success due to fear of being targeted

  • Negative: use business to avoid anxiety, avoid attempting to accomplish things due to fear of failure, use an image or role to feel more secure, lie about themselves to cover up

comparisons to other types

6 vs 1: At the core, 1's are more principled, 6's can be equally moral, but more flexible in their convictions, they will do what needs to be done, break a rule if it's necessary to help them or their loved ones, 1's sense of right and wrong is more etched in stone, 1's can lash out in anger, 6's are reactive and their anger has underlying anxiety rather than certainty, 1's pat themselves on the back when they repress themselves, 1's are less connected to people in their lofty ideals, 6's are human at the core 

6 vs 2: Both superego types, both can be helpful and emotional, 2's are more sure of themselves and 6's more reactive, 2's help because they're sure the other needs it, 6's find protection in others and like being dutiful, both can be self-righteous, 2's are parental and 6's are team players, 6's can sometimes be anti-social, 2's are not

6 vs 3: 3's want to rise to the top, 6's are afraid to remove themselves from their support grid too much, 3's motor forward while 6's over-plan

6 vs 4: 4's are elitist and/or see themselves as separate, 6's are adverse to narcissism and are prone to tribalism, 4's are constantly searching for who they are, picking up every inch of themselves and crafting it into an identity, 6's sometimes feel like they can shift into many things, their identity is multi-faceted and to them "it depends" on who/what/where/when/etc., they can both be emotional and creative and want to be unique, but when the chips are down, 4 is going to disrupt their connections to others and 6 will be as different as they can be without completely severing all connections, they can both be complainers and do a lot of "poor me," but with 4's it's "there's something wrong with me" and with 6's it's "there's something up with them"

6 vs 5: 5's are comfortable being completely separate from others, they have differing views, 6's wrestle with counterphobia and fear when they withdraw or go up against others, 5's love knowledge for the sake of it, 6's are searching for truths, 5's aren't great with people and 6's usually have a natural friendliness, 5's can be intellectually elitist and arrogance, 6's generally avoid elitism, 5's are not reactive, 6's are especially sensitive to power structures and injustices, 5's tend to romanticize isolation and introversion whereas 6's have more of a superego about removing themselves even when introverted, 6's search for knowledge is usually more based around finding out secrets or having some kind of practical knowledge, 5's are more impractical 

6 vs 7: Both can be fun and friendly, 6's are not naturally optimistic like 7's, 6's can be more self-conscious or insecure, more self-doubting, 6's are more identified with being responsible

6 vs 8: Both can be reactive and aggressive, both can overdo strength, 6's tend to be interested in self-defence and martial arts, 8's are not identified with strength and don't feel the need to prove it, 6's rebel against authorities, 8's simply express their anger at whims, 8's are much more sure of themselves and 6's tend to second-guess and feel doubt internally, 6's can be anxious and 8's are generally calm and collected

6 vs 9: 6's think 9's are too lax, 6's require more detailed explanations and have a deep search for understanding and truth, 9's can gloss over discrepancies more easily and don't have the same need for precision